Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ghetto Golf, vol. 4: Forest Park, Queens

It's time to get back out there and explore the wild world of NYC golf. Once again I am your guide. I'm starting to feel like Huell Houser. I need my own PBS show soon.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Legit Golf Diaries, volume 5: Bargain hunters

Here's a tasty bit of spam that I found in my inbox last week. Ok maybe spam's a little harsh. Primetime tee times, twilight prices, practically all day. Can't pass that up. You just can't. As I've made known, it continues to be a rough year for me handicap wise, and I can't say that I've played a good round yet. Can't even beat my own bloated 11.8 index. So the email's a clear sign--the time is now.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Legitimate Golf Dictionary, part 1

thin to win
the philosophical belief that shots struck low on the face are the most desirable of all mishits and still capable of producing decent golf

Three Putt Ci•ty
any portion of a putting green from which the likelihood of requiring three putts to hole out is greater than 50%

mashed po•ta•to
extended metaphor used by American golf spectators to express delight at a particularly well-struck (i.e. mashed) golf ball (i.e. potato)
[ORIGIN USPGA Tour, circa 2010]

Westwood, Lee (b. 1973) English golfer, avid collector of rare and exotic tournament trophies (see Volvo Scandavian Masters, Sumitomo VISA Taiheiyo Masters, Macau Open, Dimension Data Pro-Am, Nelson Mandela Invitational), and sponsor logos (see Ping, United Parcel Service, Dunlop International, Audemars Piaget, Druh Belts and Buckles, Bollé, Close House Hotel)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ghetto Golf, volume 3: Talkin' about practice II

In the last edition of Ghetto Golf we took a look at Manhattan's "one and only open air golf facility".

However that's not exactly true. There's actually one other option--the Randall's Island Golf Center. Technically in Manhattan, it's actually on a tiny (0.85 square mile) spot of land floating in the East River up next to Harlem, known as Randall's Island.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Random Monday: Cup matches, a Legitimate Golf proposal

American caddie in foreground: "WTF girls?"

Anyone happen to watch the big "2 teams, 1 cup" aka "Golf Girls Gone Wild" aka "Solheim Cup" match this weekend?

Charley Hull, left, and Paula: only one of these ladies would escape this match with dignity intact.

I did and it turned out to be pretty compelling stuff, a triumph of guts and team solidarity over hometeam histrionics. The American squad was laid to waste, but in all likelihood the home audience wasn't too broken up about it. Not unlike the Russian spectators in "Rocky IV" a good portion of viewers was probably compelled to switch allegiances midway through the event and begin rooting for the classier European team.

Those who missed out missed out on the debut of the newest sensation in golf in Charley Hull from England. Those who did tune in witnessed a 17-year old hitting clutch shots with Titleist muscleback irons and rolling in big-time putts, all while maintaining a professional and deferential poise that put every one of her opponents to shame. Charley's 5&4 defeat of Paula Creamer in singles was arguably one of the highlights of the pro golf year. Afterwards she provided a charming and highly quotable reply when asked being nervous as a newbie playing in this event: “This is how I always look at golf: I’m not going to die if I hit a bad shot. Just hit it, and find it, and hit it again.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Random Thursday Post: Creep of the Week, Bethpage Black and more

In the last post I talked about negativity, and how it sells. Well I want to sell too, so here goes. We all know that the world of golf is lousy with lousy personas. From time to time, why not put the spotlight on some of them? Maybe there's a lesson to be learned for all of us.

"Hey kids--I have a Twitter."

Ted Bishop is the current president of the PGA of America. (Respect.) I had never heard of him until this week, when he laid this gem via Twitter.

Shame on you if you tried clicking that 'Follow' button. It doesn't work anyways.

Clearly he's alluding to the slow play issues that have popped up on high-profile stages recently--this year we've had the slogfest of Tiger's final round at Torrey, and then there was the Chinese wonderkid at the Masters, then there was the USGA getting all up in our business with their cutie-patootie campaigns.

And in this one little twitter post he manages to 1) take credit for Jim Furyk and Jason Dufner's pace of play b) declare the PGA of A's ownership of the very concept of pace of play and 3) implicitly call out the PGA Tour, Augusta National and whoever else had a slow play issue, practically gloating about them not keeping their players in check. It's not just what he's saying--it's how he says it. The emphatic caps, that noxious hashtag. Ya, ok Ted. Take it easy.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Random Monday Post: the Tiger Situation, PGA Championship, waggling, yelling stuff

Well, it's finally come to this. The random post. A collection of some odds and ends. It was inevitable, probably.

First let's talk a bit on the situation with the sports media and Tiger Woods--there is way too much negativity surrounding Tiger and his supposed struggles lately. Let's face it, this negativity casts a pall over the entire pro game, and who needs that. Let's not lose perspective here-even at the highest level, golf is supposed to be about fun, and having a good time.

I don't have to tell you people that in these troubled times negativity is all the rage in sports reporting. All news reporting for that matter. Anyways this year we've been bashed over the head with LeBron, A-Rod, Lance Armstrong, Tiger. Ok we get it, negativity stirs the pot, it generates more heat than talk about puppies and warm hugz. But let's not lose sight of the fact that negativity is a tool of the devil, and it's now being used by the corporate media establishment for greedy purposes.

One of the more disturbing recent innovations in negativity-mongering is the golf media's campaign to diminish Tiger Woods's accomplishments. Saying he only wins on his favorite courses. Suggesting that non-major tour titles are practically meaningless and require barely any effort to win.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Single White Glove

The glove, it's such a fixture in golf. The overwhelming majority of people who play golf, do so while wearing one white glove.

The single white glove in golf is so common you probably don't even notice it any more than a headcover on a driver--it's only noticeable when you see someone without one.

On any hot northeast summer day, I can sweat through mine pretty quick, quite the nuisance. What to do? I tried the rotating multiple gloves thing, but that's a major pain in the ass. And anyways getting all soaked with sweat really does a number on fine cabretta leather--the glove's never the same after that.

The other day, rather than wage another losing battle with a sweaty glove I said "screw it" and tried something radical: barehanded golf.

Monday, August 5, 2013

T, P & E: the Return of the Big 3

These guys own 23 major championship titles
"Tiger who?"

-from a Golf Digest article written by Michael Arkush in early 2012: "Rickie Fowler's Win Proves Golf is in Good Hands"

2011 was arguably a low point in the men's professional golf game. Not because guys like Woods and Mickelson went winless, but more because we had to put up with a lot of obnoxious banner-waving by the golf media about "the new generation", "the changing of the guard", "the youth movement" led by the likes of McIlroy, Fowler, Anthony Kim, Ryo Ishikawa et al.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Driver Education

PGATOUR player Luke Donald is not very good at driving. Relatively speaking--after all he is among the best in the world.

Note the furrowed brow and look of consternation.
First of all he is short. Over the last five full seasons he has ranked 170th, 147th, 177th, 173rd and 153rd in driving distance.

"Ow, that's gonna hurt my stats."
But for a short hitter he is also pretty wayward, having ranked 37th, 57th, 120th, 114th and 158th in driving accuracy over the same period. In the "total driving" stat, which combines the distance and accuracy stats, Luke has never ranked higher than 121st.

I was watching the replay of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational yesterday and saw him hit a pretty bad duck hook, and it occurred to me then that Master Luke has never really seemed all that comfortable hitting the driver.

"You might want to hit a provisional, innit?"
Now I bring all this up not to blast Luke Donald on the internet. If anything it is a credit to his overall game that he's been able to stay at the upper ranks of golf for the past few years. I'm just trying to understand my own driving problems I guess. (Chances are some of you reading this have driver issues of your own.)

I wrote in the last post about playing a 6500y course without hitting the driver once. It was tight off the tee, but because I relied on the 3-wood I was able to put it in play all day. It was fun, it was liberating. And since then I've been pondering the role of this stupid driver in the modern game.

If a guy like Luke, with access to the finest clubfitting in the world and what is generally regarded as one of the most enviable swings around, cannot sort out his driving problems, what does that suggest for the rest of us? Well I'm gonna go ahead and propose that maybe it's the club that's causing all the problems.

Of all the clubs in the bag the modern driver's an anomaly, a specialty club engineered for maximum speed. A typical driver these days is just under four feet long and light as a feather compared to the 1-woods of yesterday. They are routinely given highly suggestive names: Burner, Launcher, Rocketballz.

The Original Big Bertha
TaylorMade may have been the first OEM to produce a metal wood, but it was probably Callaway that launched this current culture of violent, reckless, indiscriminate driving with the introduction of the "Big Bertha", named, rather callously if you ask me, after a WWI killing machine.

With all that wanton speed, naturally you also need forgiveness and thanks to modern metallurgy, drivers have faces so tall and deep you could hit at least two balls at the same time off them. Let's face it, they appear to be designed more for avoiding whiffs than for precision ballstriking.

It wasn't always like that though. The longest club in the bag used to be called a "1-wood", and was pretty much just a larger version of the 3-wood. A reasonable person could even hit it off a fairway lie.

I started playing well into the Titanium Age, but its always been tricky for me to hit this thing, or even to set it up right. Like most people nowadays I use a 460cc club. It seems to require such a different setup than all other clubs. I look down at address lately and I'm still not sure of what's what. Am I playing it far enough forward? And still not sure where the sweet spot is, and never quite sure of how the clubface is sitting, open or closed.

I've been getting better results lately with a 3-wood. Weird. Even though a 3-wood head is tiny compared to a driver's, it seems so much easier to make good contact. I don't think I'm alone here--the best guys in the world (Phil and Tiger) have been shooting low scores and winning tournaments while abstaining from the driver. Phil went all out and replaced driver with a souped-up 3:

This thing is tiny--250cc's, just over half the size of a typical driver. And we all know how that's been working out:

Ok, I realize that plenty of people use the modern driver with great success. But clearly this is not working out for everyone. The future of driving is still unwritten. Who knows, maybe things will trend back towards smaller, more controllable clubheads.

For now I'm going to try relying more on the fairway wood and reserving the driver for only the most forgiving situations. So I'll have some longer approaches to the greens, so what. At my level I'm scrambling for a lot of pars as it is. I'm guessing it won't impact overall scores all that much. We'll see how it goes.

How about some feedback in the comments. How's your relationship with your driver?